Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Pregnancy

What does it mean to be pro-life? This would seem simple enough. The description ideally would be self-explanatory from the name itself. I have found that this term has been dragged through the mud and become rather devoid of any real substance in a lot of circles today. Some define pro-life in the negative. It is the view that fights against abortion. Most define it solely on the unborn child. It is limited to one specific category. What many people define as pro-life is really only called pro-pregnancy.

Let me say from the start that I do not agree with abortion. I believe life begins at conception. I believe God is involved in the process of creating each individual just as he was in the process of creating Adam and Eve. I also recognize that many times due to sin entering the world that this joyous occasion can become a hardship. Physical and mental disabilities, the abuse of a husband, rape, etc. all complicate matters. I also believe in grace. I believe that women who have aborted a child are still capable of receiving grace and mercy from God. They can still receive healing. They still deserve love, counseling, and care.

Being pro-life requires admitting the hardships of raising a child. Teen pregnancy isn’t going away. This is not to say we shouldn’t still teach abstinence in a healthy context. Obviously we should, but we need to realize it will not eliminate the problem. Therefore, a solution needs to be developed for when teen pregnancy happens. There is an all too common story that happens for young unwed mothers. A girl gets pregnant and bravely decides to keep the baby. Make no mistake, this is an act of bravery. Doing what it is right and honoring by God is brave. It will require sacrifice. We are willing to say following God in all other areas will require sacrifice. Choosing life is no different.

The young woman chooses life and proceeds with the help of her parents to raise her child, finish school, and work to provide for the child. Given the difficulties she isn’t able to attend church regularly. When she does she is at best met with distant stares. Some might tell her they thought she pursued a life of drugs after having the child since she stopped attending church. That is not a pro-life view. That is a pro-pregnancy view. It is also an incredibly destructive view.

I once knew a church that had a young girl who got pregnant due to rape. It was a horrendous situation for the girl. A situation where our culture would not have scorned her for an abortion. The church adopted a pro-life view. They loved on this woman. They help meet her needs. They helped with the financial strife. They provided support for the entire family. They did what a church is supposed to do. They saw a woman who bravely took on the responsibility of caring for a child, and didn’t leave her in the dust.

Let’s go back to that first scenario of the young woman working to provide for her child. What if people recognized the difficulty of raising the child? What if rather than giving remarks of judgment there was instead an act to help meet her needs. Need a break for an evening? Let me watch your kid for you. Can’t come to church because of work? Let me sacrifice time out of my week that works for you so I can come over and have a Bible study with you to give you a little bit of Christian community.

You see, pro-life is not merely the care for the unborn child. It is the caring for the physical and spiritual needs of the mother as well. It is striving to help raise the child in world where they will know God’s love. Pro-life extends before and after the unborn child.

Here is the simple truth, and it might be painful to hear. I know it was painful for me to realize at one point. If you agree with abortion you cannot call yourself pro-life. If you do nothing to care for the physical and spiritual needs of a child and their parents you also cannot call yourself pro-life. It’s time for us to recognize the hardship that comes with choosing life, and do all we can to help lift that burden as a community. It’s true that society’s answer to this problem through abortion is not the right solution, but we need to provide the Scriptural alternative. Anything less is just pro-pregnancy, and that’s not even a shadow of pro-life.

My Hill or His Mountain?

“And he said to all ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24)

I’ve been thinking a great deal about Jesus disciples during the days leading up to the crucifixion, and the reaction of fear and terror that surrounded them. I’ve also been thinking a great deal on my personal commitment to Christ in every aspect. On top of all that I have begun to wonder how so many groups on various opposing sides can seem so willing to use the teachings of Christ that defend their view, but can also seem so blind to opposing opinions on other topics where Jesus also has a great deal to say. In other words, why do I and everyone else seem to cherry pick what we want out of Scripture?

I should preface that I write all of this about myself first and foremost. Some of the things I say may make people upset. It’s not my intention. I know it might bother some people. It bothered me as well. The truth can do that though. The truth can be uncomfortable.

Deny everything you are. That is the overall message here. We often look at this in the negative. Deny worldly pleasure, deny your sinful ways, and deny the things that would make you a “bad person.” This is definitely a primary view of what Jesus is saying. He is talking about dying to the old self. However, where things get complicated is the parts of our old self that still seem to be very good. There are parts of our old self that genuinely seem to mean well, and yet can still miss the big picture.

Everyone has that hill they are willing to die on. Many of these are good hills. Equality amongst sexes/races, the fight against poverty, love and tolerance towards opposing views, the safety of unborn children, freedom of religion, and a host of many others. Some might even have two or three hills they are willing to die on. Many of these hills can be supported through Scripture. We can have proclaiming Christians all standing on these different hills, and some willing to fight each other to protect their individual hill. This is how we get people so worked up over injustice through racism, and yet defend a woman’s right to abort her unborn child. This is why we can get people so willing to fight for the life of that unborn child, but hesitate to do anything for a young child living in incredibly poor circumstances. There are plenty of examples beyond this.

This problem does not encompass every single person of course. However, it has easily been true of me at times, and my guess is there are others who would be surprised to find it describes themselves as well. We mean well. The hills we are fighting on are a good hill to be a part of. They become a part of our identity. I am a Christian that fights for “fill in the blank.”

Jesus gives us a description. “You are my follower.” That’s it. I often say while defending my hill that I am a follower of Christ in those moments, but when I look around me I realize that I am not fighting on Christ’s hill. I am fighting on my own hill. My own little kingdom is what I am defending. Christ tells us to forget our own little hills. Instead we are called to come fight on His mountain. This mountain happens to include a lot of these hills we are fighting on. The problem is it also might include some hills that we are fighting against in favor of our own hill.

It is tempting to read verses like this while thinking of those other hills. It is easy to think Jesus is talking about those other people who have missed the things I fight for. When I do that I have missed the point. In this moment while reading these verses the only person Christ is speaking to is me. WHen I read these verses he is not calling those that come to my mind to deny themselves. He is calling me out. He is telling me to pick up my cross. He is telling me to die deny myself. He is telling me to die so that I can live.

He doesn’t want part of me. He wants everything. He doesn’t want my voice to speak out against one form of instance. He wants me to speak out against all injustice. He doesn’t want my hands to perform my work. He wants my hands to perform His work. He doesn’t want my feet to take my message. He wants my feet to take His Gospel.

When I fight on my own hill I fail to see the big picture. I fail to see the other problems in the world that Christ still cares about. I fail to be a follow of Christ. I fail to deny my own agenda in favor of His work. It doesn’t include everyone. Many do deny themselves to follow Him, but it does describe some. It described Peter in the past. A man so willing to speak out and die on his own hill only to run away while forgetting Jesus teaching when it seemed everything was lost. It has certainly described me at times. I’m going to hop off my hill. It’s time to go climb a mountain.

Some Thoughts on Abortion

I have been on vacation for the past week. It has been a good time with my family to just get away. On Wednesday I woke up early with my wife. We went onto the beach to watch the sunrise. I like this time. It gives me the opportunity to usually clear my head. There has been a great deal going on in the world that has required some of that for me lately.

I’ve been strangely quiet on social media over the Planned Parenthood situation. I have been surrounded by all of the noise coming out amongst people from all sides of the argument. In truth, it has been difficult to keep it all straight in my head. The whole event has been hard for me, but not surprising. There had been rumors of this sort of thing before, and everyone regularly told me it was just fake rumors and to pay it no mind. It would appear the story is different than they would have originally guessed.

So here I have been with my thoughts banging around inside of my head. Trying to figure out how to get them out without dogs of different breeds biting my hands off before I can finish getting a full sentence out. Tensions and emotions are high for incredibly good reason. My thoughts may sounds like they are trying to come from a rational perspective, but the truth is that these thoughts are rooted form deep emotional pain over everything. Here it goes.

1. The politicians aren’t going to fix everything. I have been chanting this statement forever, and it seems to be ignored by many. Please understand, I’m not saying abortion should not be banned. I would love nothing more than for it to be removed and recognized for what it is, but that is only part of the issue here. The ban of abortion for the Christian feels a bit like the dog chasing the mail truck. He would not quite know what to do with it if he caught it. Abortion does not exist because politicians waved a magic wand. Why do we spend all of our energy on the politicians then?

The simple truth is that no politician is going to fix this mess for us. To many people keep waiting every four years to vote for the guy they think will fix all of this, and it just is not working. That is the definition of insanity isn’t it? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

2. Abortion is wrong. For many this may seem like a no brainer statement, but it needs to be said in this post for what will come next. Abortion is the killing of innocent children. All life is sacred. I’m not saying that in the overused #alllivesmatter. Please don’t misunderstand the simplicity of this. Life is sacred. Just because our political vote alone will not fix the problem does not mean it goes ignored. We need to be diligent to defend the defenseless. We need to speak out against this, and should not allow our voices to remain silent on the matter.

3. We still believe in forgiveness. For my fellow Christian who have forgotten this statement, please camp out on this point. Yes, abortion is wrong. Yes it is the intentional killing of an innocent life. We still are called to forgive those who have this in their past. For those reading this who have had an abortion in their past, first let me say how truly sorry I am for the internal turmoil you have faced. I cannot begin to imagine what you must have had to go through. There are people in the church out there who can still welcome you with open arms. There is still a God who loves you and forgives you. I know our speaking out against abortion can sound painful, but we have all needed to be told where we have failed to meet God’s standard. We need to know what we have done that requires forgiveness in order to confess on that and receive it. I’m not here to judge in the sense of providing sentencing. Only God does that. I will continue to speak out on things like abortion, and point out a way to receive true forgiveness. Judgment would require condemnation. That is not what we provide. We bring flaws into the light, and point others to a way where healing can take place.

4. Pro-life is more than just being against abortion. This baffles me. We often end the whole Pro-0life abortion thing after birth. We often argue that we could be killing children who could become the next Einstein or Abraham Lincoln. This is incredibly true. Guess what, there is a good likelihood that they are also killing children who could cause serious harm. The kind of harm you have faced against that individual in your life that you already hate. They are killing people who will become poor. They are killing children who will become sinners. They are killing children who will grow up to cause incredible pain.

Here is why I say all that. What are we doing to make this world a place worth living in? How are we treating those who wrong us now? Do we interact with all we come in contact with as though their lives actually matter? Pro-life is about more than just giving life. It is about playing a part in this world that can provide the absolute best and most meaningful life possible for those we come in contact with. It is about caring for the orphans and the widows. It is about feeding the hungry. It is about presenting the Gospel in actions, but also in words that can point to the most profound and life altering truth anyone could ever here.

It is incredibly easy to be against abortion. It honestly is. What is hard is to be pro-life.

Things to remember this election

Four years ago the election process did not turn out as I had hoped. It had zero to do with who won the election. The winner really didn’t bother me. It was the mindless voters reacting to the results that caused me distress. That night I had people banging on my door in the early morning hours to express their distraught feelings over Obama’s win. Friends threatened to move to other countries. White people mocked Obama for his race. Black people disowned other black for voting “against their kind”. Jokes were made about lynchings. Hatred was expressed. It was beyond hypocritical of a united states, and it was simply sinful for countless Christians. There are a few things I would like to remind everyone as we vote and wait for the results.

1. Pity the fool rather than become one. Some people are going to want to start up arguments. People will leave controversial facebook posts just to wait for someone to take a bite. Pray for those people rather than indulge them in their fantasy world. Proverbs 14:7 “Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” Proverbs 12:6 “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.”

2. You don’t need to be white to be racist. There is no doubt that some white people voted against Obama just because he is black. This is wrong, and needs to be called out for what it is. However, it is equally important to remember that voting for Obama because he is black is just as racist. I pray that any black person who does not vote for Obama this election does not receives insults and hatred from others of his race for “betraying” them.

3. Your guy won’t save you. If your guy wins the election you cannot expect that everything will be just fine. Romney election will not mean the end of abortion for all time. It will not mean our country will fall on their knees and repent to God. Neither candidate will mean economic prosperity for the rest of our days. Neither candidate will fix the deep chore issues in the heart of the individual. Expecting anything like that will set you up for failure and disappointment.

4. The other guy is not the antichrist. Could he make some bad decision? Yes. Could he lead our country further down a spiraling death of poverty? Sure. Whatever peoples tell you though he is not evil incarnate. Obama agrees with abortion so we should hate him apparently. Really? Maybe we should pray God works on his heart as he did with other murderers like the apostle Paul. Politicians are not the enemy. We must remember that our world leaders must face some of the greatest temptation by the enemy. I firmly believe Satan himself saves his energy of deception, deceit, and temptation for the world leaders. They desperately need our prayers.

5. Spiritual statements these next few days are not a Jesus Juke. If you want to learn about a Jesus Juke then you can read it here http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2010/11/the-jesus-juke/. I agree with the Jesus juke concept to a very limited extent, but verses and other spiritual things posted during an election generally do not qualify as a Jesus juke. Don’t get upset when someone takes your bad joke to seriously. Don’t get annoyed with people who post a verse on their facebook. No matter the outcome of the election we will need people who are being spiritually minded and realize there is a bigger issue going on in the world. If someone spiritualizes your joke rather than become annoyed you may need to stop and think if perhaps your joke was just in poor taste to begin with.

6. Live tomorrow like you live today. If this doesn’t work you simply did something wrong today. No matter the outcome our lives, attitudes, and habits shouldn’t change one bit tomorrow.

7. Realize how (in)significant this is in the grand scheme of things. We make too big a deal of the election sometimes. Sometimes it seems like American Christian care more about who is sitting in the White house than they do about who is sitting on the heavenly throne. I don’t use my pastoral position to tell people who to vote for. I believe voting is important. I believe voting for Christian values are important, but I also realize that sometimes men against those things become president. I don’t build that scenario up as if the world will come to an end because the hope in Christ is not limited to who is sitting in the white house. The hope of Christ extends beyond all political, historical, and social events. Maybe this election will mean a further downward spiral for America and life as we know it. I’m ok with that. The worse things get the more I hunger for a time when the true ruler will come and set all things right. That is a day where we can say forget democracy, Obama, Romney, and all things tied to this world in its struggle. Keep your superficial hope; I will hang onto the real thing.

The hard question about abortion

I don’t talk on the hot button topics all the time. There are some of those big topics that easily flare up disagreements. They are anything in politics, homosexuality, and abortion. Those tend to be the three topics in the Christian community that will inevitably bring about disagreement. Normally I have bigger fish to fry in my thoughts. Why put all my time and effort in the big topics when so many other important things get ignored in the Christian life? Lately my thoughts have been going around abortion more and more though. I must warn readers though that my thought process will be significantly different for most no matter what your stance is on the issue. The reason for this is because this is not a political issue, but once again an issue of the heart of the individual.

I love Lord of the Rings. In that story a character named Treebeard is asked whose side he is on. He says that he is on no one’s side because no one is on his side. I tend to feel this way on lots of issues at times. Abortion can be one of them. Let me make a few things very clear. I am against abortion. I believe life begins at conception. Anyone who tries to tell me different is beyond living in an imaginary world. I will never be capable of understanding how someone can believe a baby is not a baby until they are born. I will never be capable of understanding how killing a child who is only a couple days old is murder, but killing them in a womb is protected under the mothers choice. It will never make sense to me.

Don’t stop reading if you are offended yet. Hang in there I strive not to go overboard on this. When dealing with a sin in culture we need to be asking the right questions. We need to ask where the source is coming from. Unfortunately many Christians believe people get abortions because our country has legalized abortion. The source is in the legalizing of abortion. Is that really the problem? Murder is illegal, but people still murder. Abortions were not always legal, but they still happened. No, legalizing abortion is not the issue.

This leads to a new question. If the legalization of abortion is not the issue than what is? The issue is why people need to justify abortion to begin with? The answer to that is fairly simple. There are women out there who believe abortion is the pest solution to their situation. Why do they believe that? Because a better alternative is not openly presenting itself.

We fight the legal battles. We go on crusades for unborn children. We protest Planned Parenthood. I think it’s good to stand up against this injustice. I do not like Planned Parenthood. I would love to see them stopped from helping with abortions. I think they are full of shadiness and have a government that is only to eager to defend them. I also think we waste too much energy on them. Planned Parenthood is not the problem. It is simply a symptom of the problem. Treat the symptoms, and they will only come back in a different form.

What if the church started striving to give pregnant women better alternatives? What if we spent less energy fighting the symptoms, and used more energy fighting for the heart of the individual. What if we started presenting the church less as a place that condemns women who murder their children, and more as a place that opens its doors for unwed mothers who feel they have nowhere to turn? What if we stared to give these women hope of a brighter future for their child?

After all the bleakness of the world is part of the logic for the mother who chooses to abort her baby. It is not just an issue of convenience. Why let a child come into a world in a harsh situation? Would it not be better if the child were just dead? That is an argument that millions of people are using for abortion. Poverty, drug environments, rape, gangs, etc. These are things that tell us this is not always a good world for a child. Imagine the impact some light could have on that darkness then.

The church needs to broaden their slogan. We say we are pro-life which too many is just translated to anti-abortion. We are much more than thought though. We are pro-family. We are pro-hope. We wish to reach out to those in need and help them get back on their feet. What if that was the image we started portraying more in the abortion debate? What if we started showing that we can be a light in this world that provide in alternative for those mothers. How can we expect any less from these women when they look around, and all they see is darkness and despair with some people making noise and spewing words like murderer to her at her contemplation?

It’s the church that loves the teenage girl who got pregnant. Was her choice to sleep with her boyfriend wrong? Yes, but is driving her away really going to fix the situation? She needs counseling and help now more than ever. She needs direction. If the church those her out on the street then where else is she going to look for help?

Culture has given its answer to the unborn child issue. It has answered by justifying abortion. We are a step behind people. We have been trying to respond by answering the issue of abortion. It is time to respond by answering cultures issues with the need for abortion in the first place.

The legalization of abortion is not the issue. The issue is that people felt the need to justify the action. They see no alternative. It is time for us to be the better alternative. It is time for the average Christian to look in the mirror and ask the hardest question of all with abortion. Is it possible that I am part of the problem? Is it possible that I have spent so much energy fighting the politics of abortion that I have failed to reach my hand out to the potential casualties of it?